Like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet before him, Tim Cook has committed to donating his fortune – a display of generosity that conceals the cupidity of the richest.
It was on the website of the American Fortune magazine that Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, announced the noble news: he will donate his entire fortune, estimated at $800 million (a little over €735 million), to charity – after providing for the education of his 10-year-old nephew, he clarified.
At 54, the successor to Steve Jobs is the latest in a long list of his rich compatriots wanting to unburden themselves from their millions in favor of good deeds. In 2010, billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett launched the movement by signing the “Giving Pledge,” thus committing to give at least half of their earnings. They called on their richest friends of the "1 percent club" to do the same.
An American Tradition
A hundred personalities followed them: the founder of CNN, Ted Turner; the former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg; and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. All this, in addition to a great fanfare of press releases and media ceremonies. In the land of Uncle Sam, donations are made openly.
This happened, for example, in December 2012, when New York real estate magnate, Mortimer Zuckerman, signed a check for $200 million (over €180 million) at Columbia University. The man had invited prominent journalists, the mayor of New York and two Nobel laureates in medicine.
This charity is so well-orchestrated that the wealthiest Americans enjoy a strong international reputation as generous philanthropists in the wake of the Rockefellers and the Dukes. But are they really? According to journalist and author Ken Stern, this display masks a less glorious reality. In an article in The Atlantic, he reveals that the richest Americans (the top 20 percent in terms of financial income) give 1.3 percent of their earnings to charities – while 20 percent of the lowest paid will allocate 3.2 percent to it.
Who Will Benefit From These Donations?
In addition, while the better off make sure to include deductions resulting from these donations on their tax forms, the less privileged forget to register them and therefore do not benefit from any tax advantage! In October 2014, the newspaper The Chronicle of Philanthropy also noticed that Americans earning more than $200,000 a year had in 2012 reduced their donations by 4.6 percent compared to 2006, while those earning less than $100,000 had increased their contributions by 4.5 percent.
Paul Piff, the researcher in psychology from the University of Berkeley, said at the end of 2013 in a supporting study: "While the level of wealth of a person increases, his capacity for compassion and empathy decreases, even though their feelings of defending their rights, seeing their merit rewarded and their ideology of self-interest increase."* The team of researchers distributed $10 to participants, asking them to keep it or to share it, in whole or in part. Result: people with lower pay than $25,000 annually shared 44 percent more than those with a salary greater than $150,000.
The question is who will benefit from the generosity of Tim Cook. Many studies point to the same phenomenon: the poor give mostly to religious institutions and organizations that assist the poor, while the rich have a soft spot for the most prestigious universities in the country, museums and cultural organizations – in short, the causes that serve their own interests.
*Editor’s Note: This quote, while accurately translated, could not be verified.